-Part one of three-
Last week, I got an e-mail from a printer in Texas who asked me if I thought there is such a thing as marketing “intangibles” that need to exist before a printing firm can have a successful marketing plan. I thought his question was actually very thought-provoking. Truthfully, I’ve asked myself the same question many times through the years because I have seen the exact same marketing plan work fabulously for one printer and fail dismally for the next.
Why? What’s the difference?
I do think there is a lot more that goes into a good marketing plan than just the “mechanics.” It is possible for the owner of a printing firm (or any business) to create an environment that is conducive to sales and marketing success. Having a good mailer or a good SEO plan isn’t the only thing that creates sales. So let me provide my top nine “sales generators” for printers. I call them sales generators because you need so much more than just advertising or marketing to create a successful selling environment. If you have these nine sales generators at your company, you’ll have a much better chance of marketing success.
Today, I’ll share the first three of the nine things you can do to create a positive selling environment at your printing firm.
#1. A well-developed workflow that can get jobs done right, on time, and fast. Customer service excellence and production excellence are the bookends of success. I actually spent much more time at my printing firm to ensure that we maintained our production standards than I did on sales and marketing management. The reason? I found it nearly impossible to get a second chance when we screwed up on an important printing job. You’ve gotta get it right the first time, every time.
#2. Energetic and well-trained customer service people who are empathetic and know how to smile. Customers will see the smile in person, hear the smile on the telephone, and feel the smile in email correspondence. My first big sales breakthrough occurred about a year after I bought my printing firm, when I hired my first superstar project manager (that’s what I called my front counter customer service reps). Cindy was smart, funny, outgoing, enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and a little theatrical. Customers loved her, and our sales started to climb as a result of her influence. It is very hard to find customer service superstars like Cindy, but they’re worth their weight in gold. I credit much of my success to the ability to find and hire extraordinary customer service reps. You need at least one superstar, and I’m not kidding.
#3. A supportive spouse. Okay, it sounds a little funny to say it, but the truth is unless your spouse understands that printing is a business that can be very demanding, you will have a difficult time succeeding. As a business owner, you are a wise person if you understand the extreme value and importance of caring for and nurturing your spouse. You need their love and support as an ongoing source of strength and encouragement to deal with the daily difficulties you’ll face at your printing firm. Unfortunately, I have seen situations where the wife feels like “the business” is the enemy. That’s a tough situation, and I feel for anybody who struggles in this area. Owning a business can be very hard on your marriage at times, so let me respectfully remind you to do everything you can to create plenty of positive times, rewards, and benefits for your spouse. P.S. — Don’t forget today is Valentine’s Day, so why not use today as a special opportunity to show your spouse how much you appreciate the sacrifice they make for your business? Why not use your best marketing skills to make them feel extra special on this important day for couples?
On Wednesday, I’ll talk about how an inspired owner, a website, and your location can be good sales generators.